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SIGCOMM 2009 Keynote Talk: Internet of Ideas

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As researchers we have a duty to communicate our ideas. As communications researchers, we are privileged to study the technology and phenomena that are so transforming human society. We seek to understand and enhance the very tools with which we can convey our contributions to human knowledge. In Japan there is a mode of presentation called, Pecha Kucha, where speakers present 20 images for 20 seconds each, as a way to convey new experimental thoughts effectively. I am going to present 12 ideas, each one in that spirit. Rather than a retrospective of my work, or a vision for a possible future Internet Architectures, I want to engage in what I do in my daily work graduate, thinking of problems that need solving in existing communications systems, or simply new ways to build communications systems.

I do not expect more than one or two of these ideas to make it past first base, but there is value in learning how to apply one’s critical faculties even when filtering out bad ideas. Metcalfe’s law is that the value of the network is the square of the number of participants since each participant contributes new input for all other participants. In an Internet of ideas, then, this value is only achieved if we contribute our ideas freely.

Researchers censor ideas for various reasons, including that a new communications system must have a business case. The Internet itself (the Web, Facebook and Twitter) was created without any business case. Many startups end up in a business that is nothing to do with the one- pager or elevator pitch they presented to the venture capitalists. We have no business filtering out ideas except if they are simply bad.

So here are my twelve research elevator pitches.

Categories & Subject Descriptors: C.2.1 [Packet-switching networks],[Network Communication]

General Terms:. Algorithms, Performance, Design

Bio: Jon Crowcroft is the Marconi Professor of Communications Systems in the Computer Laboratory, of the University of Cambridge since 2001Prior to that he was Professor of Networked Systems at University College London, where he carried out Internet related research for 22 years in the Computer Science Department on topics ranging from multicast to active networks, and distributed virtual reality to spectrum policy. His website is at, and his current projects, publications, and the slides for this keynote can be found there.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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